One of my favorite publishing houses, Flying Eye
, recently sent me a fabulous graphic novel for younger readers that I positively flipped over. Happily, the creator of ARTHUR AND THE GOLDEN ROPE, Joe Todd-Stanton
is here today to tell us more about it.
e: What is your creative process, can you walk us through it?
The main thing I try and do is keep a sketchbook on me and draw whenever I get the chance. Living in London this means 99% of my sketches are done on buses and tubes, which I think are a great place for inspiration. My ideas pretty much always come out of these doodles and it's really rare for me to ever get an idea for a story or single illustration fully formed in my head. Once I have done a drawing that I like I will try and come up with an extra element or see if I can fit it into a bigger narrative. I will then obsessively draw it over and over again until I have developed it into something I want to take to final or never want to look at again. This means doing a final sketch and then scanning that in and doing the final line and colour work using my tablet.
e: What is your medium?
Very simple. Just a pencil, paper and Photoshop. I would love to branch out into other mediums but I am very non committal. I think these days Photoshop gives you the amazing ability to experiment with pretty much everything.
e: Your palette seems so strongly red and green - is that a conscious decision?
They are both colours I love a lot. Especially Turquoise, which is a colour I have to actively stop myself from using to much. One reason is probably that books like Where the Wild Thing's Are
, which uses a similar dark colour scheme, had a massive influence on me. Also, up until my last year of University I had always worked in Black and White, so since then I think I have always felt more comfortable with a limited colour pallet.
e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again? I’m looking for your definition of “Heart Art.”
That's a very hard question to answer! I think it's to what extent a book can inspire a kids imagination. When I was young, any book that gave me sense of a world beyond the pages would instantly have me hooked. Especially if that book gave me a sense of magic whilst still being somehow grounded in the real world so some part of me could feel like it was possible.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of this story?
Well, it's not very funny but it did come out of an idea that was completely different. Originally, I wanted to make a book that documented different kinds of mythical creatures with a narrator that kept souvenirs from each discovery. It would have been much more information based and I wanted to do analytical cross sections of the creatures and their environments. This narrator ended up becoming professor Brownstone and then the rest of the story morphed around his character. I would still love to come back to the original idea one day.
e: What was your path to publication?
Three years ago when I finished university we had our final show at the Coningsby Gallery in London
. Someone from Nobrow
must have seen my work because the next day they contacted me asking if I had any ideas for a project. Then with the incredible help and patience of Sam and Harriet from Flying Eye it took nearly two years of on and off developing and changing my original idea to come up with a solid narrative.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
I think that like pretty much every artist I am my own worst critic so making anything that I am kind of happy with is always great. I also love coming up with an idea and then trying to push it as far is it can go, whether that is just one character's individual expression or the detail in a massive image. (Joe's studio...)
e: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
I put a lot of emphasis on books in the story because they are a great way of having adventures in the comfort of your home. I think that amazing ability of being able to get lost in a book is something we shouldn't forget about passing on to the next generation. Although, I guess I would say that being an author!
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I am currently just about to finish the art work on my second children's book, which is about a girl called Erin from a fishing town that discovers a secret. The story is based on an illustration I did back in university so it will be so amazing for me when I finally get to see it in print. In terms of dream jobs I would absolutely love to illustrate Peter Pan
as it has always been my favourite story. So if any publishers are reading this!!
e: Thanks Joe! And I hope you'll come back to share Erin with us when she's ready for the world.